Author: Medea Ivaniadze, Junior Researcher at Rondeli Foundation
The digest covers China’s political, diplomatic, economic, and other activities in the South Caucasus region and relations between China and the South Caucasus countries. It relies on a wide variety of sources, including the Chinese media. It is worth noting that the Chinese media is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (according to the World Press Freedom Index China is nearly at the bottom of the list and ranks 179th out of 180 countries).
- China and Armenia discuss cooperation in military sphere
- Azerbaijan and China discuss military cooperation
- Georgia’s Office of the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equity hosts China’s National Ethnic Affairs Commission delegation
- Armenia discusses the possibility of joining the AIIB
- A joint company was established by Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan to serve cargo coming from China
- The first Confucius class opened in Azerbaijan’s Khazar University
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China and Armenia discuss cooperation in military sphere
On October 30, the Vice Chairman of the CCP Central Military Commission, He Weidong, met with the Defense Minister of Armenia, Suren Papikyan, who was attending the 10th Beijing Xiangshan Forum in China.
During their meeting, He Weidong said that the relationship between the two militaries had maintained steady growth and achieved satisfactory results. China Military Online reported that China was willing to cooperate closely with Armenia “to enhance friendly exchanges and deepen pragmatic mil-to-mil cooperation in various fields”.
Reportedly, Papikyan said that China was a reliable partner of Armenia, and the cooperation between Armenia and China had yielded “fruitful outcomes”. According to the report, the Armenian side “highly values the development of mil-to-mil relations with China and is ready to collaborate with China in promoting the rapid development of exchanges and cooperation in the military domain.”
Azerbaijan and China discuss military cooperation
Azerbaijan’s Minister of Defense, Zakir Hasanov, visited China to participate in the 10th Beijing Xiangshan Forum, Azertac reported on October 31.
Reportedly, Hasanov met with the Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission of China, He Weidong, discussing prospects for the development of cooperation in the military, military-technical, military-educational, and other spheres.
Hasanov also met with heads of several companies of the military-industrial complex of China.
The Azertac report said that at the meetings, which were also attended by the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to China, Bunyad Huseynov, the current state of and prospects for the development of joint cooperation were discussed.
Georgian Ambassador says the BRI action plan is a guideline for Georgia-China collaboration under BRI
On October 26, Chinese state media published an interview with the Georgian Ambassador to China, Archil Kalandia.
While discussing the Belt and Road Initiative, he expressed readiness to participate more actively in the BRI. About the Middle Corridor, Kalandia said that Georgia had a vital role in this direction and added that Georgia was ready to play a more active role in trade-economic cooperation between China and the European Union.
He also said they had signed “a very important agreement with NDRC (China’s National Development and Reform Commission),” an action plan, cooperation between China and Georgia under the Belt and Road Initiative. He said that this document would be the guideline for collaboration under “this global initiative in coming years.”
Kalandia added: “This reflects how important it is for the government of Georgia to strengthen and intensify cooperation with our Chinese colleagues under this global initiative.”
Georgia’s Office of the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equity hosts China’s National Ethnic Affairs Commission delegation
A photo from the meeting. Source: Georgia’s Office of the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equity
On October 26, Georgia’s Office of the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equity reported that State Minister Thea Akhvlediani had met with the delegation of China’s National Ethnic Affairs Commission headed by Deputy Minister Bianba Zhaxi. Reportedly, the visit was aimed at introducing the state policy of civil equality and integration in Georgia and establishing cooperative relations in this field. It was organized by the office of the State Minister on the initiative of the Chinese side and “in accordance with the interest expressed in the priority directions”.
Within the framework of the visit, the Chinese delegation also met with representatives of the Parliament of Georgia, the Ministry of Education and Science, and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth.
The report said that in order to get acquainted with the implementation of the tasks of the state strategy of civil equality and integration in practice, the delegation members, together with the representatives of the local government, visited the Kvemo Kartli region, “densely populated by ethnic minorities and attended the educational process at the school in Bolnisi municipality, met with students and teachers of different ethnic groups”. Reportedly, the delegation also got acquainted with the activities of local entrepreneurs, including those in villages densely populated by representatives of the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities. The delegation held meetings at the Tbilisi State University and the Ilia University.
Armenia discusses the possibility of joining the AIIB
During his visit to China, Armenia’s Minister of Economy, Vahan Kerobyan, met with the Deputy Minister of Commerce of China, Ling Ji, News.am reported on October 23.
They discussed the possibility of engagement of Chinese companies in Armenia’s infrastructure, mining, processing industry, high technology, logistics, and several other domains.
Reportedly, “a separate reference was made to the chances of Armenia joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the prospects of bilateral cooperation in that framework”.
Tbilisi Mayor hosts Sichuan delegation, expresses desire to deepen China-Georgia strategic partnership
A photo from the meeting. Source: Tbilisi City Hall
The Mayor of Tbilisi and the Secretary General of Georgia’s ruling Georgian Dream Party, Kakha Kaladze, met with representatives of the delegation of the Chinese Sichuan Province, Tbilisi City Hall reported on October 27.
Within the framework of the “Tbilisi Silk Road Forum,” Kaladze met with the Deputy Chairman of the Standing Committee of the People’s Assembly of Sichuan Province, Song Chaohua, and other members of the Sichuan delegation.
Reportedly, they spoke about “the importance of the Silk Road and priority areas of economic cooperation between the two countries, such as investments, export of Georgian wine to China, tourism, and student exchange programs”.
“China is a strategic partner of Georgia, and we want to further deepen these relations in the future,” the Mayor said.
Kaladze announced that in the near future, the issue of signing a twinning agreement between Tbilisi and Sichuan would be discussed.
Song Chaohua said he hoped for further deepening of relations between Tbilisi and Sichuan Province.
A joint company was established by Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan to serve cargo coming from China
During the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum, a joint company was established by Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan railways, Agenda reported on November 1. The Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Economy, Levan Davitashvili noted that it would serve containerized cargo coming from China and added that the company would help to increase coordination and efficiency in the Middle Corridor.
Azerbaijan Army serviceman took part in a seminar on “The Chinese Path to Modernization”
A photo from the event. Source: Azernews
A serviceman of the Azerbaijan Army took part in the International Seminar on the Chinese Path to Modernization held in the People’s Republic of China, Azernews reported on November 2.
Lieutenant Colonel Elkhan Farzaliyev delivered a speech on Azerbaijani-Chinese relations and unmanned aerial vehicles during the seminar. Reportedly, Azerbaijani serviceman was awarded an honorary certificate.
The first Confucius class opened in Azerbaijan’s Khazar University
A photo from the event. Source: The Embassy of China to Azerbaijan
On October 23, the Ambassador of China to Azerbaijan, Guo Min, attended the unveiling ceremony of the Confucius class at the Khazar University, the Chinese Embassy in Azerbaijan reported.
The rector of Anhui University, Zhou Fei, representatives of Chinese-funded institutions, teachers and students from the Khazar University and Confucius Institute at Baku State University, and others participated in the event.
According to the Ambassador, this is the first Confucius class in Azerbaijan. The Ambassador Guo Min expressed confidence that the Confucius class at Khazar University will positively contribute to strengthening friendship and people-to-people contacts between the two nations.
Armenia’s Economy Minister and the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Qingdao’s People’s Congress discuss cooperation
A photo from the meeting. Source: Armenia’s Ministry of Economy
The Minister of Economy of Armenia, Vahan Kerobyan, met with a delegation led by the Chairman of the Standing Committee of China’s Qingdao City People’s Congress, Wang Lumin, News.am reported on November 1.
They discussed the possibilities of expanding bilateral cooperation in construction, diamond production, technological transfers, IT, and other fields.
Kerobyan presented “the favorable business environment” created in Armenia and investment projects being implemented, including the projects for creating industrial parks and constructing a “dry port,” and proposed that Chinese companies consider the possibility of getting involved in these projects.
They discussed the deepening of relations in tourism and the launch of direct flights between Armenia and China.
Georgia’s National Tourism Administration and Chinese government delegation discussed cooperation in tourism
A photo from the meeting. Source: The National Tourism Administration of Georgia
Within the framework of the Tbilisi Silk Road Forum, the head of the National Tourism Administration of Georgia, Maia Omiadze, met with the members of the Chinese government delegation, the National Tourism Administration of Georgia reported on October 27.
Reportedly, at the meeting with the representatives of China’s trade, economy, and tourism organizations, the issues of cooperation between Georgia and China in the field of tourism were discussed.
Omiadze said they planned a working meeting of Georgian and Chinese companies for next year and holding events on business tourism.
The Deputy Minister of Georgia’s Agriculture meets the Chinese delegation
A photo from the meeting. Source: Georgia’s Environmental Protection and Agriculture Ministry
The Deputy Minister of Georgia’s Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Yuri Nozadze, met with the members of China’s delegation, Georgia’s Environmental Protection and Agriculture Ministry reported on October 26.
The large companies engaged in trade and distribution, import-export of wine and alcoholic beverages (Jilin Sifang Trading Co, Zhangjiakou Sugar, and Wine Food Co, Liaoning Xinhong Yingmin Industrial Co, Henan Wine Convenience Commercial Co, Baofeng Baijiu Industry Sales LLC, Aofeng Baijiu Industry Co), and representatives of the Chinese National Spirits Association and the Chinese Food and Fermentation Industry Research Institute were in the delegation.
“In recent years, the intensified ties at the governmental level and the signed agreement on strategic partnership provide a good opportunity to deepen the cooperation between the two countries in many directions,” Yuri Nozadze said.
The Executive Vice-Chairman of the China National Association for Liquor and Spirits Circulation, Yuan Liu, said that by deepening relations at the state level, establishing necessary business connections, and taking marketing activities, it would be possible to promote Georgian wine more actively in the Chinese market and increase exports.
China and Azerbaijan’s Sumgayit discuss cooperation
A photo from the meeting. Source: The Embassy of China to Azerbaijan
On October 31, the Ambassador of China to Azerbaijan, Guo Min, visited Azerbaijan’s Sumgayit and held talks with the Head of the Executive Power of Sumgayit, Zakir Farajov, exchanging views on China-Azerbaijan relations, economic and trade cooperation, and friendship city contacts.
The Embassy of China reported that the third largest city in Azerbaijan, Sumgayit, had long maintained friendly exchanges with Chinese Xi’an City, Jiangjin District, and Mianyang City, which “set a model for regional cooperation between the two countries”.
The Chinese side expressed willingness to deepen cooperation with Sumgayit and actively participate in the construction of Sumgayit Chemical Industrial Park.
Reportedly, more Chinese enterprises are welcome to invest and do business in Sumgayit, and the Azerbaijani side will “provide favorable conditions and all-round guarantees”.
Azerbaijani delegation participates in the 6th China International Import Expo
On November 5, the 6th China International Import Expo, held under the initiative and patronage of the CCP Chairman Xi Jinping, opened in Shanghai, Azernews reported.
Reportedly, a delegation comprising heads of state institutions headed by Shahin Mustafayev, the Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, and co-chairman of the Azerbaijan-China Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, participated in the exhibition.
Armenian scholar publishes a BRI-supporting article in Chinese state media
On October 25, the Chairman of the Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies in Armenia, Benyamin Poghosyan, published an article in China Daily, the Chinese state media. He expressed support for the Belt and Road Initiative, writing that Armenia and China were continuing their cooperation and partnership “based on shared history” and were looking forward to “achieving new heights within the BRI.”
On BRI cooperation, Poghosyan wrote that the flagship project for involving Armenia in the BRI was the “‘Persian Gulf-Black Sea’ multimodal transportation corridor launched in 2016 by Armenia, Iran, Georgia, Bulgaria, and Greece”. Among other things, he also wrote that there was close cooperation between non-governmental organizations in Armenia and China within the BRI, and Armenian NGOs and think tanks participated in such initiatives as the Silk Road Think Tank Network and the Silk Road NGO Cooperation Network.
He also targeted the US claiming: “As the world is passing through a challenging period of transition from a unipolar world marked by absolute US hegemony to a more diverse system, with many great and middle powers interacting, cooperating and competing with each other, China, as a respected and responsible member of the international community, seeks to contribute to the secure, stable and prosperous development of the world”.